Whistle in the Dark – Gaiety Theatre – Review

As Druid Murphy has just to the Gaiety Theatre, we thought it was a good moment to repost our reviews from the Theatre Festival last October!

This is the first of the Druid Murphy plays I saw, as I seem to have booked them out of order! As they were not originally meant to be a trilogy, and do not have any link between them other than thematically, there’s no real starting point in which to see them. As part of the cycle, for those willing to do all three on the same day, Conversations on a homecoming is first (set in the 1970’s), with Whistle in the Dark next (set in the 1960’s) and then Famine (set in 1846, Mayo).

The setting for this play is Coventry in the 1960s, where Michael Carney has started a new life for himself after leaving Mayo. Three of his brothers have since joined him in Coventry, and seem to be involved with the criminal underworld. The play starts with the arrival of his father, Michael Senior, and his youngest brother Des. Michael Junior fears that his youngest brother will end up in the same world as his brothers and the potential corruption of the young man forms one of the main themes of the play.

There are a number of stand out performances, including Niall Buggy as the father, and Aaron Monaghan as the most aggressive of the sons. The ensemble cast works well, and while they are an unlikely bunch of brothers, the tension and emotion builds through the piece to its eventual tragic ending.

This is a bleak portrayal of life of the emigrant in England, and the battles they face to be accepted. In my mind the piece seems to miss a sympathetic character, as almost all those on stage are badly flawed. It makes for an uneasy night at the theatre, but is very much as Murphy wants it, painting a realistic vision of people involved in crime, and their families.

These are new productions with a different cast from the originals, which are soon to be on tour around Ireland, full details are here:


April 12 – 20 – Town Hall Theatre, Galway

April 23 – 27 – Siamsa Tíre, Tralee

April 30 – May 11 – Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

May 14 – 18 – Dunamaise, Portlaoise

May 21 – 25 – Glór, Ennis

May 28 – June 1 – An Grianán, Letterkenny

June 4 – 8 – Backstage, Longford

June 11 – 15 – Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire

June 18 – 22 – Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick


Charlotte McCurry – Peggy (Conversations)

Edwin Mullane – Hugo (Whistle)

Marie Mullen – Missus (Conversations)

Garrett Lombard – Tom (Conversations) & Harry (Whistle)

Maeliosa Stafford – Dada (Whistle)

Marty Rea – Michael (Conversations) & Michael (Whistle)

Rory Nolan – Liam (Conversations) & Iggy (Whistle)

Stephen Jones – Junior (Conversations) & Hugo (Whistle)

Michael Glenn Murphy – Mush (Whistle)

Judith Roddy – Anne (Conversations) & Betty (Whistle)

Gavin Drea – (Des (Whistle)

Categories: Theatre

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